45 Days Later…

It’s (just past) 45 days later and I’ve survived my challenge. Forgive me for not updating right away but I’ve been enjoying the sweet, sweet nothingness…. and going back to full-time work hours.

I won’t lie, some days it was extremely hard. It seemed impossible. Other days I was giddy just to get out on my bike. During the whole process I have been keeping some notes that I was planning on putting into one post at the end but it seems like it’d be a short novel if I combined it all into one. To that end, I’ll actually be splitting it up into little bite-sized posts over the next week or two.

I have some videos for you, pictures as always, and some fun and funny stories about my journey. I hope you all enjoy reading about it as much as I (mostly) enjoyed doing it.

Days 29-31 – Knowing the Dangers

There’s certain risks we accept in any sport. Hell, there are risks we accept just getting up in the morning and leaving the house. This doesn’t stop us from doing the things we love. What can increase your safety in anything is knowing the dangers and being prepared. I learned this, as with everything I do, the hard way.

For a little weekend getaway, Ryan and I headed up to Okanagan Falls to visit his parents. While we were there, and as it was still part of my 45 days, we took in some of the local trails in Penticton and Naramata. The first day there we headed out to a trail called Rock Oven. As you can tell by the name, there are lots of rocks and it’s in the sun. On this day it was particularly hot (around 40-45 degrees) and we were still covered in a haze of smoke from the BC wildfires. While I’m aware of general “ourdoorsy in BC” dangers like bears and cougars and poison ivy (not that I could identify it if my life depended on it) I didn’t take the time to research what new hazards to look out for in this new riding area. Luckily for us, Ryan’s parents (and a giant sign on the trail) gave us a warning to look out for snakes – including rattlesnakes. While I had my bear spray on me, it seemed a bit overkill for a thread from a snake. Either way, we headed out with eyes on the bushes and started our long, long, long climb up to the trail.

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After some terrified peeing in the bush (while calmly talking to the potential snakes: “I’m just going to walk right here. I don’t want to hurt you. I’m just going to do my thing and leave you alone”) we made it to the trail and lo and behold…. a snake.

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Now, I wish I’d taken the time to research snakes before leaving so I could figure out how terrified to be. Turns out this guy isn’t venomous but we weren’t taking any chances. We made plenty of noise from a distance until it slithered back into the bush. Having the confirmation that snakes were out and about definitely put a new spin on the day, but we headed forward.

Partway through the trail (a trail which I did not care for at all but I’ll reserve my rant on why I hated it so much) I didn’t feel so good. I was dizzy. Hot. Sweaty. I had my Camelbak on me with 3L of water in it and was drinking it like crazy and yet I couldn’t quite get it together. The dizziness was leading to a general lack of balance and I wound up crashing… a lot. Luckily I got away with just a bruised tailbone but there were more pressing matters at hand.

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I knew it was bad when Ryan took a look at me and said, “okay so let’s just keep going quickly and carefully and get down to the car.” After some pressing about why we were in a rush he admitted I didn’t look so good. With good reason! It would appear that no matter what I tried doing, my body was hell bent on getting heat stroke that day and we both knew it was only going to get worse.

The scariest part about the whole situation was just how out of my mind I was without realizing it. It was almost like being drunk but thinking you’re sober. I came up with a perfectly logical plan to close my eyes for a quick nap on a big rock slab in the sun. I couldn’t concentrate. I had a total meltdown for 15 minutes because I had to ride through a mud puddle with wasps swarming in it (for the record I consider freaking out about that quite reasonable). At any rate, I only thought I felt a little woozy and tired. Until I felt better when I realized just how far gone I had been. I am grateful that Ryan noticed early on, pressed me to keep drinking water, and encouraged me down the mountain. Between the snakes, the miserable trail, and the heat stroke it was not my best day.

What we can learn from this is to be prepared. I know everyone’s heard this a million times but it’s incredibly important and worth emphasizing. So much more could have gone wrong and if it did we could’ve both been in serious trouble.

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Research the dangers in the area you’re headed out in. If there’s animals you need to worry about, what are you supposed to do when you encounter them? Is there anything you can bring to keep yourself safer? Do people know where you are and when you’re coming back? Even a quick rip out on trails you’re very familiar with warrant at least texting one person where you’ll be.

Do you have some food and plenty of water? Not just to last you the ride but what if you get lost or stuck for a while? Do you know any first aid? Do you have any first aid supplies on you? I carry a small first aid kit that you can get at any outdoorsy store. It may not be perfect, but in an emergency it’s helpful to have anything you’ve got.

My lesson in preparedness was challenging but, luckily, had no lasting consequences. Hopefully after reading this you all will take a quick look in your pack to see what you could add and do some quick research on local dangers in order to keep yourself a little bit safer on the trails. Happy shredding, and be safe out there.

Day 17 – “Bikes are made to fly”

Day 17/45 was an extra special day for me. I had planned a day by myself in Whistler, but while I was booking my lift pass, I came across the GT Bikes sponsored Women's Camp that they run at the bike park. I was immediately sold. A camp for female riders, run by female coaches! What's not to love?

I do love riding with my male riding buddies but I have noticed a difference in approach between them and female friends and sometimes you just need someone to explain something a certain way for it to work for you. That being said, upon arrival and sorting into skill groups there were more "intermediates" than expected and we had a sheepish person come up and ask us if we minded terribly having a male coach that day. Of course it was fine but it was really lovely that they asked. I'm so happy we got the instructor that we did. He was AMAZING. He explained things so clearly and was really great with feedback and pointers.

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The real excitement came from the new skills I learned. After some basic skills progression we headed down to do some actual jumping! My friends…. I got off the ground! It was scary but felt SO good. A lovely follower on Facebook messaged me a while ago about my skill progression and she said when she was starting she was told that "bikes were made to fly" and that when she first jumped she knew what that meant. I have to say I was completely shocked when I left the ground and didn't immediately fling out of control or spontaneously explode! While the jumps are still small, I did almost clear a couple of them which is very exciting.

There was one other victory and that was a big, scary rock rolldown. Our coach showed us what to do but said we didn't have to give it a go if we didn't want to but I knew that I'd be mad at myself if I didn't at least try. After one wind up and chicken out, I walked back up and came back to it and did it! Thanks to our lovely coach for snapping the amazing picture of me accomplishing this. I also had my GoPro on that day and captured some of these moments.

When the day of riding was over, we all headed in for some snacks, drinks, and prizes. GT Bikes was there with some great swag as well as some stuff for raffle. Grand prize was this beautiful GT Bikes racing jersey and I was completely shocked and delighted to have actually won it! I've worn it since and it's amazing. My whole torso is like a giant vent with a lovely breeze rippling through.

The day in Whistler was fantastic and I found myself accomplishing things I didn't think I could. I can't wait to go back!

Taking it Easy and Giving Back – Days 6-11

I know, I know.  It’s been a while since my last update.  I have been riding, riding, riding while trying to balance personal life and what little work I DO have.  In my last post I mentioned my knee acting up from overuse.  I decided that I should take it easy with how I’m riding and what I’m riding.  Most of the pain was coming when I pedalled so I tried to shuttle, walk up any climbs, and head to the pump track a couple of times so I could stay on my bike.  It was important to me to stay committed to this project but not do permanent damage to my body.

I really enjoyed the “slow down” time as it gave me a chance to work on some skills and try some new things.  On a shuttling trip to Mt Seymour I was able to try some new trails and work on skinnies which ended up in this success:

Trust me, after trying that about 10 times and always chickening out after the first little part, this was an awesome achievement!

I also spent a bit more time at the pump track with my unicycling friend, Bryan, and got to watch him fool around on his uni.

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He even let me give it a shot even though I’m WAY too short for it and my feet couldn’t reach the pedals if I were to attempt to move.

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Hopefully he can get his hands on a smaller uni and I’ll give it a try again.  The pumping practice also definitely paid off when I got back out on the trails.

There was also a special day in the mix this week.  On Sunday, the North Shore Mountain Bike Association (I believe in conjunction with NSMB and Mosaic Homes.  Correct me if I’m wrong) had an open trail day where any member of the community could sign up to help out with some trail maintenance.

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I got to spend all morning with some awesome folks digging a big trench, setting up a little bridge to go over that trench, and filling in other parts of the climb trail with ‘gold.’

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The morning flew by and was really fun (which was surprising considering it involved digging a hole) and the lovely sponsors for the event, Mosaic Homes, even donated lunch for us all as well as some prizes that got given away.  Overall, it was a fantastic first experience and I can’t wait for more trail days to come.  If you have anything like it in your area, I highly recommend going to give back to the community and to the trail networks that you enjoy.  The other thing I learned from this is if you plan a ride after an event, remember ALL of your gear.  Hiking boots do not grip to pedals well.

Lastly, I had a great run for day 11.  My knee was finally feeling better and I broke my own record for pedalling up from the Mt Fromme parking lot.  I made it allllllmost to the Crinkum Crankum entrance.  This is roughly 2-3 times my previous record.  I was so excited.  As for other out on the trail that day:  if you passed by a woman on a blue Transition Bottlerocket singing Selena Gomez or Justin Bieber on the climb… that was me.  I’m so sorry you had to be subjected to that but it was what was on the radio on the drive and it kept me going.

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That day 11 ride yielded a number of records, as my Strava showed afterwards.  It was a great day out and a nice, long ride by myself and it felt full of personal achievement.  Onto day 12 and some exciting stuff coming up for this week!

 

In case you missed the challenge.